Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Correcting Papers?

You'll often hear teachers lament that correcting papers is a tiresome, but informative process.  Why tiresome?

Correcting papers with thought, care and feedback takes lots of time, time that is primarily found outside of a teacher's work hours--time that's part of a teacher's personal life.  Hence correcting papers always means putting something else aside to make time for that important task.  Since some educators' roles include correcting papers that take numerous hours, the "put aside" activity could be an activity related to personal health or family life, thus the "tiresome (and perhaps stressful)" label that often is added to correcting papers.

Correcting papers also costs an emotional toll because as a teacher carefully analyzes a student's work, he or she may notice numerous areas for additional instruction or help.  Understanding the areas for which a child could use additional support leads to the challenge of finding the time and accessing the instructional tools to make that happen in an already busy schedule.

Yet, correcting papers is both informative and motivating.  When students receive a paper that's been carefully reviewed and commented on, they know that someone is taking the time to think about their progress and development.  Also the corrected papers inform parents about a child's progress and needs. The corrected papers further provide the instructor with next steps for the development of the individual and the entire class, and alert the educator to the strategies that resulted in successful learning and those strategies which were less successful.

So, what's the answer.  I believe correcting papers and providing student feedback and response are essential components to good teaching.  I also recognize that the minimal amount of time teachers are given to plan responsive lessons, correct papers and provide targeted feedback gets in the way of optimal coaching, mentoring and instruction.  The answer lies in re-looking at professional educators' roles in an attempt to create reasonable schedules with enough time to plan, correct, respond to, and instruct in state-of-the-art, student-friendly ways while still providing educators with the time they need to have a healthy personal life.

Do you agree? If so, what strategies can make this vision a reality and what efforts do you currently employ in this domain that work?  Thank you for your thoughts.